Ahead of next week’s Checkatrade Trophy game against Peterborough United, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has emphasised the significance representing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge has on an Academy player’s development.
Joe Edwards’ side meet the Posh on Wednesday evening and tickets for the third round tie, priced at £5 for adults and £3 for seniors and juniors, are available to buy now. It will be the development squad’s second consecutive Checkatrade Trophy game in west London, and so we sat down with Loftus-Cheek to ask him how it felt to play there as a youngster learning his way in the game.
Loftus-Cheek has been with the Blues since he was an Under-8, and over the last 15 years has worked his way up to become a significant member of Maurizio Sarri’s squad this season. He featured regularly for our youth team as a schoolboy, and first got the chance to run out at our home ground in an FA Youth Cup semi-final against Liverpool in April 2013 (pictured top). He was 17 years old.
‘For me it was so loud,’ he remembers.
‘I hadn’t experienced anything like that before. It plays a good part in the transition from playing with a few parents watching at the training ground, to playing in a big stadium with thousands watching. You get more and more used to the atmosphere.
‘There can be negative parts as well, like fans giving you stick, but that happens and the different environment prepares you well.’
It is not just on the pitch that Loftus-Cheek recalls new experiences during his first outings as a teenager at the Bridge. The build-up to matches is also pretty different.
‘The dressing room felt huge! In the Academy you just have one changing area and everyone is in that bit. In the senior team you have the massage and physiotherapy bit, the ice bath, and then the actual locker room. Everyone would get excited if they had Lampard or Drogba’s locker room. It was a good experience to see what it is like.’